Berlin's unique camaraderie leads to success on the court

Berlin's unique camaraderie leads to success on the court

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Berlin's unique camaraderie leads to success on the court

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BERLIN

Imagine having a group of ten friends who you’ve been friends with for at least your four years of high school and many of whom you’ve had as a friend for longer.

Imagine that same group having all been good at one particular sport and you’ve been playing together as a team for countless years.

Imagine once more that each of the friends wants exactly the same thing as the other friends in that sport and have been working together for that goal and finally have reached it.

You’d think you’d have been dreaming right? Waking up wondering why it was just a dream?

Well, the Berlin volleyball team is living such a dream right now, having advanced to the school’s first WIAA Division 2 State Volleyball Tournament at the Resch Center in Green Bay on Friday

“These girls, they are like our best friends,” said Jenna Horn. “It’s like the dream. We’ve always talked about this and the dream is coming true now.”

For the 10 senior girls on the Berlin volleyball team — Anna and Ashley Gravunder, Becca Wenig, Kayla Konen, Callie Walker, Mariah Moe, Laura Trochinksi, Bethany Hietpas, Maddie Koster and Horn– this dream has been a long time coming.

“We were all talking like, we’ve been together for five or six years playing and we always wanted to be where we are going right now and our goal, we just did it,” Konen said. “It’s kind of amazing.”

For most, it started way back in their time in elementary school, forming friendships that would be the key basis for the Indians this season.

By the time fourth grade hit, most of those friends starting playing volleyball together.

The group would pick up a few new people in the process, but by the time they had reached high school, all of the girls had played at least a couple of years together. And they always had fun doing it, too.

“I think it’s a lot of fun playing with people that you’ve always played with,” Ashley Gravunder said. “We know each other really well and we know how to pick each other up and what makes us play well.”

During the high school years they have been split up from time to time, with some on different levels of the Indians program. But even then, they knew what they were shooting for and just waiting for it all — and all of them — to come together again.

This year was finally that year.

“This is our one goal that we have,” Anna Gravunder said. “We’ve all dreamed about going to state and we’ve all been working towards this goal.”

That goal — making it to state — has been the focus of the Indians all season long. And it never really looked in question for Berlin, who rolled through the regular season and the postseason to get to state.

“At practice we never took it easy, we were always pushing ourselves to be better,” Wenig said. “We deserve to be where we are at.”

Most of that had to do with that unbelievable chemistry of the senior group, formed from years of playing together and being together. They know what any of the other girls are going to do at any different time.

“You get used to playing next to people,” Trochinski said. “You know what balls they are going to take and what balls you should take.”

There are also no egos on the Berlin squad. Where as other teams may have problems with players complaining about playing time or their positions on the team, the Indians have no such thing due to the multiple years together and the focus on the prize.

“I think we all know our role and accept our role of what we do,” Walker said. “The non-starters are just as important as the starters and the non-starters know that and it’s fine. There’s not a lot of drama about it.”

The chemistry over the years has also led to all of the pieces fitting together just perfectly on offense and defense for the Indians. They have girls to fill every position since they all grew up together and had to fill those positions early on.

“Everyone kind of played a whole bunch of different positions (growing up),” Moe said. “We all had multiple positions that we could play and eventually we had some people better at other positions and we all had our spots on the court.”

Even to this day the girls still get plenty of practice in at the other positions, making the team formidable all the way around the rotation.

It also helps them get a feel for what their teammates go through on a day in, day out basis.

“When we practice we make sure that everybody plays every position,” Hietpas said. “We make sure that everybody does everything and they know how it feels to be in other people’s positions.”

Now the Indians lay just two games away from claiming Berlin’s first state title in volleyball. While the Indians may be great on both the offensive and defensive sides, winning or losing may come down to the one thing that they most definitely have the advantage in.

“We don’t know that we are as good as we are,” Koster said. “Like we will be sitting there and we’ll be talking like why are we so good and it’s like what do we have that other teams don’t. It’s because we have our chemistry.

“Like we have all of us together and we know each other so well and we are great friends. We all just come together as one.”

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